Supreme Court Upholds Broadest Reasonable Interpretation and No Review for Institution in PTAB ProceedingsJune 20, 2016

The Supreme Court has issued its opinion in the case of In re Cuozzo Speed Technologies, LLC. In re Cuozzo initially began as an inter partes review (IPR) with the Patent Trial and Appeals Board (PTAB) where Garmin challenged the validity of Cuozzo’s patent relating to an interface that uses GPS technology to display a vehicle’s speed as well as the speed limit on the basis that Cuozzo’s patent was obvious under 35 U.S.C. ยง 103(a).

During claim construction, the PTAB applied the broadest reasonable interpretation (BRI) standard applied during prosecution, rather than applying the Phillips standard used in litigation, and determined that all of the challenged claims were obvious in light of the prior art. The Court determined that the PTAB may adopt the BRI standard based on its long-standing practice of doing so and Chevron deference. The Federal Circuit also found that decisions by the PTAB regarding whether or not to institute a proceeding are not subject to judicial review. Certiorari was granted by the Supreme Court, and the case was argued April 25, 2016 on the two issues addressed by the Federal Circuit.

The Supreme Court’s decision confirms the Federal Circuit, holding that the USPTO’s application of BRI is appropriate, and that the decision of the PTAB regarding whether or not to institute a proceeding was not reviewable.  This decision underscores two important issues that differentiate PTAB procedures such as IPR and post grant review that can have significant implications for both patent owners and defendants. 

The full decision can be found here.

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